OK let’s put this into context quickly:
1. I am never not thinking about Batman. Never. My wallet and phone sport the Bat sigil. I’m perpetually rewatching my favorite episodes of The Animated Series. I’m always looking for another comic arc to check out, as I became a comics fan only a handful of years ago. Batman is hands down my favorite comic book property. Period.
3. There’ve been a lot of rumors about the upcoming Gotham series, including one prevalent one where writers claimed that as early as the pilot they would be teasing glimpses of men who could one day become the Joker.
4. How to reintroduce the Joker as a movie villain has been a constant discussion topic among Bat-fans ever since Heath Ledger’s passing.
5. On the most recent episode of Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast, legendary comic artist/writer/human Neal Adams was spitballing on potential actors for the DCU movies. The subject of the Joker came up, as one would expect. Adams, who has had a hand in most major comic properties for the last 50 some odd years, immediately voiced his support for a Joker played by Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith.
That’s a fan casting I could get behind. And it set off my brain and had me thinking about other actors who could potentially play the Dark Knight’s most twisted adversary.
1. Matt Smith
Let’s start with Neal’s suggestion since it’s a good one. Matt Smith is tall and lanky and, let’s be honest, has an interesting looking face. All good physical touchstones for a Joker. He’s not a massive superstar, but has a definite built-in fanbase. He has acting chops for sure, although the pure mania one associates with the Joker is something Smith never quite got to do in Doctor Who. However, the sheer range of his acting on that show in general is enough to make me think he could do it, no sweat. I feel like a Matt Smith Joker would feel new; a Joker who goes from calm to hysteria or from suave to furious in a second. It would be come off less like a performance than any other live-action Joker to date.
2. Seth Gabel
Not a household name by a long shot, but fans of genre television shows Fringe and Salem will recognize Gabel instantly. Oh and Arrow. Yes, Gabel has already had a hand in playing a DC villain on television when he got to pay the first incarnation of Count Vertigo on Arrow. Gabel’s performance in Arrow is the closest I’ve ever seen anyone come to playing a live-action version of Mark Hamill’s animated Joker. He’s a character. His voice, his gait, his mannerisms, his speech patterns – all of them are the goofiest form of psychopathy and they are all I’ve ever wanted in a Joker. Not too dark, but not someone to be underestimated.
3. Bryan Cranston
Maybe the most obvious of casting choices as the former meth lord of the ABQ has been dreamcast in just about every superhero villain role a fan can think of. A Cranston Joker would be older, obviously, and one which could have the mature and grizzled mania that we got in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Can you imagine a painted Walter White, fighting Batman in the tunnel of love, only to snap his own neck out of spite? CHILLS. CHILLS I TELL YOU!
4. Lance Reddick
Nobody said my Joker picks had to be white, although I have a sneaking suspicion that they would have to play his makeup game very very carefully. Reddick is another Fringe alum, and one who is consistently cast as stoic or enigmatic characters. But, on the rare occasions when he gets to go a little bonkers on screen, it’s terrifying. Reddick has a massive grin and one which could be associated with evil no problem. His Joker would be another one similar to Matt Smith’s. A zero-sixty type, with a creepy calm randomly perforated by screaming laughter and the occasional murder.
So – who on this list do you think could play the Joker? Any interesting choices you’d like to share with me?